The Detroit Tigers have lost the last five times that Justin Verlander has taken the ball. They will try to change that on Saturday in the second test of a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Verlander has had a forgettable season for the American League Central-leading Tigers, posting a 12-10 mark to go along with a 3.59 ERA. However, the former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner resembled his former self on Sunday against Cleveland by tossing seven scoreless innings.
"He had that determined look on his face," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "You couldn't pitch any better. He shut them out for seven innings. You can't ask for any more than that."
The Tigers, though, lost that one, 4-0, and have dropped seven of Verlander's last nine starts.
Although, Verlander is 15-4 lifetime versus the Royals with a 2.71 ERA in 27 starts, he has lost to them twice this season despite pitching to a 2.60 ERA in four starts.
Kansas City will turn to a flamethrower of its own in lefty Danny Duffy, who is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, but struggled with his command his last time out. Duffy failed to get out of the fourth inning on Monday against Seattle, as he allowed a run and five hits with four walks before departing after 3 2/3 innings of his team's 3-1 win.
Duffy is 1-3 in five starts against the Tigers with a 4.08 ERA.
Detroit rolled in Friday's opener, as the Tigers combined for 26 hits in a 16-2 rout.
Two days after getting embarrassed by Boston, 20-4, the Tigers took out their frustrations on the playoff-hopeful Royals. Omar Infante was a perfect 5-for-5 with six RBI, Andy Dirks also had five hits and scored four times and Austin Jackson knocked in four with a pair a two-run scoring hits.
Of the Tigers' 26 hits, only six went for extra bases and the team accomplished the impressive scoring total without hitting a single home run.
"It was just one of those freak games, they don't happen very often," said Leyland. "Either way, I don't think this will happen tomorrow."
James Shields (10-9) took the brunt of the outburst, charged with 10 of the runs and 14 of the hits over 3 2/3 innings of work.
"He had had enough," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "He was at 90 pitches and with the way that our (bullpen) has been here the last two games I really didn't have any options. I was trying to go as far as I could with him."
Kansas City, which lost for only the fourth time in 13 tries, remained 4 1/2 games back of the final wild card berth in the American League after Tampa Bay fell to Seattle.
Winning his sixth straight decision with rather ease, Anibal Sanchez (13-7) scattered seven hits and one run over seven innings.
The Royals have split 14 meetings with the Tigers this season.